Melissa Roark

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

James Kopp


In personal problem-solving, an organism emits responses that have been useful in the past to alter its personal contingencies and produce a response that "solves" a problem. In verbal behavior, a human organism emits responses that have previously been useful to alter the contingencies of another human, this producing a response that "solves a problem". Additionally, in verbal behavior, an organism is controlled by its current contingencies rather than its history of reinforcement. It is suggested that personal problem-solving resembles a tandem schedule of reinforcement and that verbal behavior, which has evolved in humans, resembles multiple schedule reinforcement. This study attempted to observe the potential for evolution of verbal behavior in a non-human species. In experiment 1 of the present study, half of the subjects chose the multiple over tandem schedule control across the majority of the sessions. In experiment 2, half the subjects showed a higher maximum FR1 response ratio requirement for the multiple schedule. These findings suggest that, given a choice, rats prefer reinforcement schedules with a prominent discriminative component. Since verbal behavior is defined as behavior controlled by external rather than internal stimuli, these data suggest that the basic requirements for the evolution of verbal behavior may be present in animal species other than Homo Sapiens.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Included in

Psychology Commons